“Something magical has happened to me: like a dream when one feels frightened and creepy, and suddenly wakes up to the knowledge that no such terrors exist. I have woken up.” -Leo Tolstoy in Anna Karenina
Colorado was a lovely, comfortable dream. Weekly brunch with my family, friendships built over the course of a lifetime, clean mountain air, moments of complete blissful silence….dreamy. To put it as eloquently and authentically as Tolstoy did: I have woken up. I have awoken from a pleasant dream to a terrifying and exhilarating new reality that has whisked the clouds from my mind and made me feel…alive. Truly alive, in a way I have never felt before. I believe it’s human nature to fear we are wasting the short time we have here(I think the kids call it FOMO..?), and to abandon your complacency is no easy feat. But once you do it, nothing will ever compare to that feeling of fresh new air in your lungs, making you wonder why the hell you didn’t wake up sooner.
Somehow I always knew New York would be the wake up call I needed. Maybe that knowledge was founded in romantic comedies and never-ending Friends marathons, but to my relief, it pointed my inner compass in a direction I’m so happy I followed. My small, living-roomless Brooklyn studio is far different from the chic and spacious lofts in my mind’s eye, but it’s mine. And I love it. And I love the life I’m building around it with my husband. As much as this blog is about living in the city, it is also about marriage.
Nick and I have been married now for nearly 4 months. It’s hard to say if it was the life-changing move that shifted things, or marriage itself. Probably a combo of both. When I think back to 2014 when we started dating, and compare those people to the people we are now, I almost can’t believe they are the same. When I fell in love with Nick, I was going through the most difficult time in my life. I was absolutely consumed with grief, my 2 favorite people had died within the span of 10 months, my strong happy family felt like it was crumbling with the weight of loss, and I had no idea who I was or what I wanted. Nick saw me through this time and became the pull in my heart that told me to keep going. He made me laugh, he made me feel safe, and I knew I never wanted to live a day that did not include him for the rest of my life. Nearly 4 years later, I still feel all these things, but at a completely different magnitude. At the beginning stages of love, it’s easy to believe everything is perfect and very difficult to imagine there will ever be a bump in the road. The beautiful thing I’ve learned about long-term relationships and forever commitment is this: if you are with the right person, the bumps in the road do not scare you. In fact, once you have made it over them, as large or as frequent as they may come, your heart seems to expand and make room for you to love them even more. There have been times we’ve been tested, like any couple. I’ve made mistakes, he’s made mistakes, and there have been moments when we are so angry that we don’t want to be around each other at all. And then he does something that takes me right back to the moment I fell in love with him. It doesn’t even have to be an obvious act of love that brings me back, in fact, it very often isn’t. It’s the simple moments like, how he looks when he first wakes up and has his retainer in, the way he flips bacon, or helps a stranger carry their stroller up 2 flights of stairs. Just like that, the heart makes room, and you fall deeper. You hear so often how difficult marriage or long-term relationships are, and I agree, but I also know that it never feels difficult for very long if you are with the right person. Imperfect love will have many trials, and with that, many triumphs. Love is supposed to be complicated, it’s supposed to hurt sometimes. I like to think of it like a living organism almost, that grows the more you feed it, and dies when you starve it. And isn’t that so much more beautiful anyway? A love that has a little depth to it?
Moving across the country has strengthened us, it’s also taught us how to be a really good team. And most importantly, it’s shown us just how much fun we have with each other. There is certainly no lack of things to do here, and we discover more every week. Here are some more favorites:
–Enchantments is an occult store in the East Village, it smells like witchcraft and feels like magic. Here you will find actual cauldrons, spell books, spell candles, witchy herbs/potions, and adorable black cats. There is a counter at the back of the store where a “Witch” sits, and she will make you a custom spell candle centered around what’s going on in your life and what you need the candle for. The witch on duty at the time had super short bangs, purple hair, soul-penetrating eyes, and various piercings. Basically, she looked like the cool, edgy girl in school everyone is afraid to talk to, like a female Judd Nelson circa Breakfast Club. I told her all about Nick and I’s recent marriage and move to the city, she told me my candle would be ready in 30 minutes. In it, she carved my name, zodiac sign, and spells for luck, happiness, and contentment. It was rubbed with magical essential oils, metal glitter, and I was given an offering of honey. 30 minutes later my candle was ready, and she gave me detailed instructions on how to properly use it. I love this place.
–Chelsea Market is this awesome, multi-level sophisticated flea market. Incredible food from local NY businesses, unique and interesting shops, and free wifi. I walk by this gem on one of my routes and find it incredibly easy to kill time here between walks. The Chelsea neighborhood in general is quite lovely.
–The Johnson’s/Strange Flavor Burger Shack this is my favorite Bushwick gem so far. It’s hidden on a mural covered street, blink and you miss it. You walk in to what looks like a garage to find the tiniest of Burger Shacks, offering unique burgers with a “sichuan twist” and one of my favorite things ever, animal fries. You order at the window, and take a seat on a ground pillow on a pseudo-lawn or hanging chair. Or you can take a seat inside the delightfully retro, 60’s/70’s vibe bar, The Johnson’s. The decor made me feel like I was living inside a decade I could get on board with. As I sat there sipping my surprisingly affordable cocktail and ate my delicious burger with crunchy ground peanuts and Mala glaze, I was surprised not to see Don Draper walk through the door. There’s a pool table, plastic covered couch, juke box, and music that doesn’t make me cringe. I think Nick and I found our new watering hole.
–The Beetle House is heaven for anyone who loves dark and twisty awesomeness, Tim Burton, or angsty music that reminds you of your teenage years spent in your first car. While I get the feeling this is a “Halloween all year” kind of bar, Nick and I went on Halloween weekend to get the full effect. The walls are covered with Beetlejuice, Nightmare Before Christmas, and other Tim Burton-esque artwork, the lights are low and sparkling purple, and the furniture is black (I think, it was really dark.) The cocktails are a pretty penny, but are really fun and delicious. I had one called “Alice’s Cup of Tea” and enjoyed it immensely. I can’t wait to visit when I’m getting sick of all the Thanksgiving crap.
Stay tuned for more NYC discoveries, ramblings about marriage/following your dreams, and heinous complaints about people that just don’t know how to walk on sidewalks. I love you all. xoxo